Glyphosate – the End of Aspirin?

Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser

Dear Readers, Relax, this is not going to be a heavy-duty chemical lecture!

As you may have read in the news, the herbicide Roundup™ inventing company Monsanto had been bought by the company that invented the medicinal compound Aspirin™, i.e. the Bayer AG, back in 2018. Roundup is said to be the world’s most widely used herbicide.

You may also have seen reports on lawsuits in the Golden State, CA, and elsewhere that accused (and convicted) Monsanto, respectively its new owner, Bayer AG, of causing a rare cancer and so on via Roundup’s active ingredient, i.e. glyphosate. The current number of lawsuits in that genre tops 13,000 – yes, some thirteen thousand – already. Just wait for a while, that number is likely to increase.

Even without making any statement on the merit of such legal proceedings, pro or con, it’s probably safe to assume that the courts will be busy with them for a long time to come, perhaps lasting for decades.

So, let’s take a closer look at the material known as:

Glyphosate

As far as I can reckon, the critical question in that regard is whether or not its active ingredient can be deemed a “carcinogen” or perhaps just a likely or possible carcinogen. I wrote about that in another recent post (here). It has seen numerous scientific reviews in a number of countries, suffice it to point to a couple of links (here and here) and not elaborate on it any further now. Let’s go on then to the next chemical, one that you’ll likely be familiar with, widely known as “Aspirin.”

Aspirin

Unless you’ve never had a body-ache at all, never needed anything from any drugstore at all, it’s nearly a sure bet that you have taken “an aspirin” at one time or another. Aspirin, the tradename for the chemical “acetylsalicyclic acid” is a medication used to treat pain, fever, inflammation and other ailments. It has now been around since its first synthesis, nearly 170 years ago. The aforementioned Bayer AG started to market it as a medicinal product some 120 years ago and, even today, you can find numerous recommendations for its benefits to human health and longevity.

Since then, this quite simple chemical (structure shown above) has already extended the lives of many people across the world.   No surprise then. It’s still being recommended as a “first step” medicine for anyone experiencing a mild heart attack, with “take two aspirins and see a doctor, ASAP.”

So, should everyone take a couple of such pills, every day, just as a precaution? Is there anything wrong with the widely touted “Precautionary Principle?”

The Precautionary Principle (PP)

No doubt, that advice on aspirin has extended the lives of many people, but not necessarily that of everyone who may have ever taken it.

Of course, there are always a few people, anywhere, who happen to be highly sensitive to something that is profoundly beneficial to most others. That holds true for just about anything, aspirin, glyphosate, water or air. In fact, as any certified SCUBA diver will have learned, even oxygen (the air constituent vital to our life), becomes toxic when breathed in at a 100% concentration for more than 15 minutes or so. That’s the same oxygen you and I most likely could not live without for a few minutes, before falling into a coma and/or dying soon after.

It ought to tell you that the “Precautionary Principle,” as commonly applied, is a faulty approach. That can be shown easily in several ways. For example, hammers and screwdrivers are essential tools worldwide. Misuse or lack of control of either one has also caused many injuries. The PP, as widely applied these days, would indicate that we should ban both of them – of course, that’s nonsense.

If 21% oxygen in the air is good for life, wouldn’t 100% be even better? Conversely, if 100% oxygen is bad for life (after a few minutes) shouldn’t we apply the PP and ban it from the atmosphere altogether (if that were even possible)?

Furthermore, even nitrogen, that benign other air constituent (comprising 78% of the atmosphere) will cause “nitrogen narcosis,” also known as “Martini effect” by divers, can kill you.

Applying the PP to eliminate both oxygen and nitrogen from the air would only leave the element argon and a few trace constituents in the air. While argon does not have any direct toxic effects, it would not sustain life either. That’s why pure argon is used as a protective gas in many welding operations.

The Precautionary Principle needs to be balanced with common sense and reason!

In the end, it all comes down to nature’s principle, formulated by Paracelsus (1493-1541) which says “the dose makes the effect.”

If I may paraphrase the PP in terms of either glyphosate or aspirin, if you intend to live on such substances as your sole sustenance, you will not last long — but at small dose exposures, they are highly beneficial to our health, respectively, for bountiful food production.

Long live aspirin and glyphosate!


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Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts Convenient Myths
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Comments (4)

  • Avatar

    jerry krause

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    Hi Klaus,

    A tremendous, simple, lesson about LIFE as we have learned about it. I need to add just a little bit. I have read many times that given today’s regulations about the testing which needs to be done to prove a molecules safe for human consumption, that Aspirin would never be approved. For its observed negative side effects far outweigh its benefits to human life. For these benefits are far too subtle to detect in a limited testing program.

    Less commonly read is the following: “Bruce Ames, (born December 16, 1928, New York City, New York, U.S.), American biochemist and geneticist who developed the Ames test for chemical mutagens. The test, introduced in the 1970s, assessed the ability of chemicals to induce mutations in the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium. Because of its sensitivity to carcinogenic (cancer-causing) human-made substances, which led to bans on the commercial use of several synthetic chemicals, the test made Ames a hero to environmentalists. However, he later changed his position on synthetic chemicals, following the realization that many naturally occurring substances are also carcinogenic. As a result, during the late 1980s and the 1990s, he came into conflict with environmentalists who had hailed him as an asset to their cause.” (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bruce-Ames)

    But the deception, which one reads here, is: ” many naturally occurring substances are also carcinogenic.” For many of these naturally occurring substances are in the foods that humans have been eating since the beginning of human life without any evidence that these foods, which contain these ‘potentially’ carcinogenic molecules according to the Ames test, do cause cancer.

    Hence, the reversal of Bruce’s claim that his test has any validity. But the environmentalists chose to ignore this.

    Have a good day, Jerry

  • Avatar

    Robet Hanes

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    Very well stated and important. We’ve reached an absurd place with those that wish to ban everything that is ‘dangerous’ or ‘bad’ at any concentration. The questionable part is why so many chemists seem to go along with public consensus without even attempting to educate the benefits to good chemistry on all people and the planet.

  • Avatar

    Hans Schreuder

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    Don’t forget the imminent dangers of a bucket of water. We should ban either the bucket or the water or both just to be safe ….!

    • Avatar

      Herb Rose

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      Hi Hans,
      In the USA 5 gallons pail come with a warning decal on the side showing a child tumbling into the pail. When this ridiculous warning was adopted I remember the government official in charge saying she would see that if any child drowned in a pail she would see that the family got a million dollars. I don’t know if any one decided to redeem their child for the money.
      Herb

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